Engagement. Buzzword or Necessity?

I’m on my way home from our head office – about a 3 hour trek I’ve made hundreds of times before. It’s not a difficult drive and it’s usually pretty peaceful. Suddenly, I’m hit with this thought – a thought I’m sure we’ve all had before – I know I was navigating traffic, making turns and I eventually pulled into the driveway, but how did I get here?


We make it home, but the journey is conspicuously lost in our memory…

Just like last year, we now look back on our first new month of the year and ask a familiar question… where has it gone? We’ve navigated through our projects, we’ve changed direction or focus when it was required and we’ve brought some tasks through to completion.


 We’re ‘getting our work done’ but are we truly (insert buzzword here…) engaged.

Engagement has become a widely talked about topic in Human Resources and in organizations as a whole. And for good reason. Engagement is a buzzword because it is a necessity for success. Many of the challenges we recognize on a daily basis can be explained as issues of engagement – difficult behavior, interpersonal challenges, stress, medical leave, illness, turnover … the list goes on and on. All of these behaviours point to a disengaged employee.

So, what is engagement… fundamentally?

In our experience, engagement, or lack thereof, looks like this:

Engagement blog engaged v disengaged image.JPG

What we’ve noticed in our work across industries is that a disengaged employee seems to routinely run on autopilot. I don’t have to tell you… we all know this comes with a cost.

I’ve heard it mentioned before that if you are not learning and growing, then you’re falling behind.

In business, as in life, this is completely true. The competitive edge of any organization, department, team or individual is the ability to be an agent and manger of change. Engagement is evolving – being in the moment at work, seizing opportunities, recognizing chances to grow and develop and capitalizing at that time. Being engaged means taking ownership, switching off autopilot and taking the controls. Being engaged is activity – anti-stagnation activity.

Sounds rosy, but it’s harder in practice than in theory.

It’s our duty as HR professionals, leaders, managers and supervisors to ensure engagement. In the conversations we have with the participants of our training sessions, we quickly see that the ‘blame’ always rolls uphill. Front line people will inevitably point the proverbial ‘finger’ at the ‘higher ups’. And, whether or not you accept this as truth, it is definitely the reality. I will say this… it’s hard to change the mind of anyone, let alone the mind of someone who harbors frustration, and the opinion that their suggestions, stressors and tribulations are not being taken seriously and are falling on deaf ears.

You want to see disengagement, talk to someone who tries to articulate a lack of resources, time and tools and then feels that nothing is done as a result. The real problem: this is happening every day. And, in the absence of concrete proof that ‘something is being done’ all that is left is our own perceptions and interpretations. And that is where disengagement is born.

This begs the question, then: How do we balance the responsibilities of executive leadership and the genuine concerns of the front line to create an ‘engaged workforce’ that recognizes they are all playing in the same sandbox?

Join in the conversation by following this link to ‘revolutionHRy’ – our LinkedIn group dedicated to sharing knowledge, resources and expertise. Weigh in on our question: How does your organization fight for engagement with your most valuable asset – your people?

Side note: We all know the effects of stress are far reaching and result in waning levels of engagement. Why not brush up on some strategies to help Manage Stress Effectively. Check out our FREE webinar for some relevant and practical tools you can use to help limit the stress you are, more than likely, feeling:

Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaYa4W5o1_E